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Postpartum Bleeding: What To Expect Postpartum

Updated: Feb 1

Imagine a full-size dinner plate. 

Now imagine a wound on your skin as big as that. 

You’d better believe you’d be taking it easy, resting, healing, and doing all of the things possible to reduce scarring and pain…. So why is this so often not the case with postpartum recovery?

What To Expect For Bleeding Postpartum?

Your placenta is HUGE. Literally the size of a dinner plate. And, when it detaches, you are left with a huge open wound on the inside of your uterus. Cue postpartum bleeding (also called Lochea). 

Just like any wound, the area left behind in your uterus needs to heal. Any time your body is healing there is a process. If you’ve ever had a cut, you’ll know what I mean.

It starts with bleeding, then clots off. Next comes the scab formation, sometimes some leaking of clear fluids, and then the scab comes off. The exact same process applies, but inside of your body where you can’t see it.

“I was expecting the “lochea” after delivery but I was mostly expecting blood. While I did have some blood, I mostly had a ton of yellow-tinged liquid similar looking to pee but sometimes pink-tinged – I was expecting just regular red bleeding.” – An Empowered Birth Parent

Every single person is going to heal a little differently, and your experience will be unique to you. I have had many clients experience dark red blood (like a heavy period) for about 2 weeks lightening up as time passed. On the other hand, I have had people (like above) that have had much less of the bleeding and more of the sero-sanguineous drainage that comes with wound healing. 

Oh, and as an important note: regardless if you are healing from a c-section or vaginal birth, you will experience postpartum bleeding.

How Much Bleeding Is Too Much After A Baby?

postpartum bleeding - 1 pad an hour is too much

(The picture above shows food colouring). The left is a small amount of blood that you may see between bathroom trips after a few days postpartum. The right is a fully saturated pad.

The general rule of thumb is 1 pad or more saturated in an hour is too much. You should go to the hospital if this is happening to you.

Mind you, soaking one pad may happen if you have been sitting for a while and you stand up with a gush or a clot that comes out. Though these should not be enormous clots (about the size of a toonie). They should stop after changing position and you should not continue to “gush”. 

Returning To Activity Postpartum

Overdoing it in the first 6 weeks is really common. A lot of people start feeling better fast. Therefore, they go for big walks or start exercising before their bodies are healed. 

Your 6-week check-up with your doctor is not a magic day. Most times, you won’t be physically examined to determine your healing from vaginal tears or an episiotomy. These types of injuries can increase the length of time it takes your body to recover. It might even mean double the 6 weeks of recovery before you can return to “normal” activity. 

Guidelines for c-sections with non-complicated recoveries can be 8-10 weeks or longer!

My best advice for you for postpartum recovery?

  1. Take it slow. DON’T overdo it in those first few days! (Check out this post on Postpartum Recovery timelines

  2. Your body will need higher calories and more dense nutrition in the weeks and early months postpartum than in pregnancy. See a dietitian who specializes in this and make sure you are getting everything you need for recovery and breastfeeding (if you choose to).

  3. See a Pelvic Floor Physio – they’re incredible and you’ve likely heard me say that a million times. If you are a human with a body you will benefit from seeing one! But especially if you have had any tearing, complications, or a c-section.

  4. Slowly return to exercising. If you can, find someone who is trained and specialized in postpartum bodies. My friend and colleague Martine of The Mama Movement is an excellent resource!

  5. Be kind to yourself and push that foolish societal pressure out the window. Leave the idea of “bouncing back” to rubber balls and not to bodies. You took 9 months to grow your beautiful little babe and grow your body into the parent it has become – be gentle and know you are as new as your baby. It all takes time.

Want some really helpful postpartum product ideas to stock up on? Check out this list of Postpartum Essentials made for you by other Moms!


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